AI and the Breast Health Journey
In this 5-part Breast Health Series, we explore the challenges related to breast cancer screening and the role AI can play in early detection. In our previous breast health interview series with Dr. Amy Patel, we discuss education and outreach as tools to address the issue of inequity in breast care.
Breast Health Series
Part 1: The Breast Density Dilemma
Part 2: The Limits of Mammography
Part 4: Breast Cancer in Transgender, Young Female, and Male Individuals
Breast health is predominantly associated with the average patient demographic of women over the age of 40. While it’s crucial for this demographic to proactively manage their breast health, it’s important to remember breast cancer affects other people as well. Transgender patients undergoing hormone treatment, women under the age of 40, and even male patients face the possibility of breast cancer. In Part 4 of the Breast Health Series, we will bring attention to breast cancer in these less talked about demographics.
There are highly visible and successful campaigns focused on breast cancer awareness and the importance of breast care and routine screening. Most campaigns are framed as ‘women vs breast cancer’ and are heavy on feminine symbolism. While this is an effective and unifying approach to raising awareness, there are perhaps some simple ways to make the fight against breast cancer more inclusive, such as using gender-neutral terms like ‘patients’ rather than ‘women’. Including all people impacted by breast cancer, even those affected at considerably lower rates, will promote the idea that breast health is important for everyone, not just one demographic.
Transgender individuals need more representation in the breast health discussion. This recent study shows transgender patients undergoing hormone treatment have an increased risk of breast cancer, particularly those who undergo a male to female transition. To be clear, their level of risk is not more than cisgender (non-transgender) women, but it is high enough to where they typically follow the same guidelines for screening as cisgender women. There is still a lack of uniformity in the inclusion of transgender patients under these guidelines.
Breast cancer risk for women increases with age, but young women should be aware of their level of risk as well. This is determined by family and medical history as much as age. For women determined to be high risk, it’s often recommended they get routine mammograms as early as 30 years old. This is an example of how a more personalized approach to screening recommendations with the help of AI could benefit a wider range of people.
About 1 in every 100 cases of breast cancer in the U.S. is found in men. Though it is a much rarer occurrence, men should also be aware of the possibility of breast cancer. There are certain family and medical history risk factors that could indicate the potential for breast cancer in male patients. Again, inclusivity in breast cancer awareness campaigns can only serve to benefit everyone and improve health equity.
As we wrap Part 4 of the Breast Health Series, we encourage you to join us next week as we conclude the series with an overview of the current state of breast health and the role AI can play in battling breast cancer.